Is Your Intellectual Property Safe From Theft?

IP News and Information

No one wants to be the victim of theft, whether it’s your car, your home or other personal possessions, everyone works hard to hold onto their valuables. Theft has changed over the years and thieves get more sophisticated all the time. In fact, increasingly, theft is not about stealing other people’s possessions, but rather their private and valuable information, including their identity. ID theft is rampant and very pervasive. It can also leaves victims dealing with its negative effects for years after the initial crime. There’s no question that everyone should be vigilant in keeping his or her private information safe and secure from would-be thieves. Another kind of theft that can be very costly and which is becoming more common is IP theft.

Intellectual Property Theft Crimes

IP theft is real and it happens all the time. Just like ID theft, IP theft can have extremely negative consequences for its victims, which are often small businesses and start-up companies. In addition, it can be very hard to combat, and proving that IP theft has taken place can be an uphill, very expensive battle. Even some companies with strong cases and rock-solid evidence that they have been victimized still don’t have the resources to bring the thieves to justice. Thus, they are left with little choice but to let the thieves get away with their crime. The thieves are then left free to profit from the IP that rightfully belongs to someone else. Thus IP theft can have several negative consequences. So how does a company protect itself from IP theft?

Proving and Protecting IP

Many small businesses and start-up companies have to share their potentially valuable intellectual property with larger companies and possible investors in order to obtain funds to help grow their ideas and their business. The problem is this leaves these kinds of companies more vulnerable to theft. One way to prevent this is to first have the interested party sign a non-disclosure agreement before introducing the IP. This proves you own the IP and prevents the interested party from stealing it. It’s also a good idea to add your branding or trademark on items you share.

Who Owns the IP: Your Business or the Contractor?

If you are an employer and you contract an individual to work for your company to help develop IP, then you need to have the appropriate clauses in place that clearly state that the IP belongs to the company and not to the contractor. Otherwise, you risk the possibility of losing valuable IP for your company.

Don’t be afraid to fight for your IP

Unfortunately, there are cases in which other companies or individuals steal or infringe other’s IP rights. When this happens, you should at least do as much as you can afford to fight it. Sometimes, a legal letter requesting that a perpetrator cease his or her activities is enough to encourage them to stop breaching your IP. If a legal letter is not enough you must weigh the cost of pursuing the situation further against the value of the IP. If the IP is extremely valuable or has the potential to be very valuable, then the cost to fight to protect it is probably worth it.

Your IP Could Be your Greatest Asset

It’s important to always remember to treat your IP as an asset and not as a luxury. That’s because according to Arlen L. Olsen, IPTrader president, “the right kind of IP can end up being worth millions or even billions of dollars if it is commercially valuable and monetized correctly.” Therefore, don’t hide your IP from possible monetization opportunities, but make sure you share it safely. The IP thieves are watching.